The most glorious thing about being a music-crazed college student is the moment when you discover that that quiet kid in your Play Analysis class is in a band. Meet Harris Face and the Restoration. They are a steel guitar-driven, harmonica-sprinkled folk rock band from Washington, D.C. Their debut 6-track EP, Hopeful Paranoia will be released this summer. Formed in 2012 around the writing of singer-songwriter Harris Face, they have featured in local venues Rock & Roll Hotel, Iota, and Wonderland Ballroom, and in New York at Sidewalk Cafe. As a solo artist, Harris has frequently toured the Northeast and Midwest, played the Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival, and opened for the Vespers and Brothers Lazaroff.
Although Hopeful Paranoia won’t be released until the summer, WRGW has “The Squall,” the first single, available for your listening pleasure.
Meet CJ Ballesteros, A.K.A. Del Oro, a singer-songwriter with a lot of projects on his dashboard. Somehow, he found the time to chat with WRGW about literature, GW, and the DMV. Represent!
Many of your songs have an element of place and space in them. How do you incorporate location in your songwriting process?
I think location plays a large part in my songwriting just because my surroundings influence everything about my life. Moving to DC has played a big role in a lot of the lyrics as a whole. A lot of it has to do with being far away from people I knew incredibly well and who knew me well also. Trying to cope without seeing certain people every day and trying to maintain intimate relationships over long distances. At the same time a lot of my songs reference memories from Virginia and my friends there. Maybe it’s less places that influence the writing but the people in those places.
Why “Del Oro”? Are listeners intended to incorporate theories of Latino studies? WHAT IF I DON’T SPEAK SPANISH?
Del Oro is actually a small reference to my favorite book, House of Leaves. I read it in a line somewhere in the book and liked the sound. The phrase is roughly translated “of the gold.” I don’t speak Spanish either. Hopefully I’m not way off the mark on that one. What if it meant something stupid like “terrible band name?” That would suck.
How do you think the GW community has influenced (if at all) your performances, songwriting, or themes?
The GW community has probably influenced my songwriting more than they might know. Obviously there are my friends, who have a huge influence on what I write. Experiences I’ve had with them continually shape who I am, and my life as a whole. I’ve written a couple songs about my best friend Maggie and I, because we spend a ton of time together. She’s been seriously the best friend I could ask for, and she’s always been super supportive of everything I’ve done. As far as GW people go she’s the best of the best, or even just regular people. She’s awesome. Of course some of the other songs are a little bit of a bummer, and that has a little to do with feeling out of place at GW. But the more time I spend here the more people I meet who make me feel like this is a place worth being at, though.
Where will we find Del Oro this summer?
This summer you’ll find me around. Can’t say what my definite plans are. I may record a short EP of a few songs I’ve been writing. I might play a few shows as they pop up. My other band, Soundtrack to Sleep, is gonna be playing a ton of shows in the Northern Virginia/DC area. But keep your ear to the ground. I’m hoping there will be some more opportunities to play in front of GW kids. Go team.
Listen to Del Oro:
You should be aware that WRGW will be conducting an interview with Oregon teenage indie wizkids Foreign Talks on Sunday, April 14th at 5 PM.
It will be LIVE, ON-AIR, so be sure to tune in at gwradio.com!
Last week, young strapping men in the gym were seen practicing squats with their female friends perched upon their muscley shoulders.
Last week, couples everywhere began training for a makeout marathon, testing social mores by pushing the limits of over-the-bra touching in public.
Last week, Forever 21 sold out of neon crop tops and Vineyard Vines had to order more salmon chubbies.
Reader, you guessed right: It was time, once again, for Spring Fling!
Spring Fling is a campus-wide, all-day event (although, let’s be real: most of GW only shows up for the headlining musical act, ignoring Program Board’s meticulous efforts at planning a fun-in-the-sun college fest). At past Spring Flings, you could leap endlessly on a moonbounce, play cornhole, and whack your roommate silly with giant Q-tips. This year, PB continued their well-loved tradition of giving away free stuff (pizza, soda, arranging a Battle Royale for oversized tank tops), but was seriously lacking in the activities department. Most students were glad to lounge in the sun or line up early at the front of the stage in preparation for the live music ahead.
And it’s no wonder why we enjoyed no inflatable sumo wrestling this year—the concert planning committee clearly required a larger chunk of the budget in order to book pop-rockers and capitalization enthusiasts WALK THE MOON and hype machine DJ/rapper duo Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. While these two acts occupy completely different genres, they appeal to the same audience—fun-loving college students with a penchant for the boogie.
Ohio’s WALK THE MOON bounced onstage, faces painted in party war paint. Lead singer Nicholas Petricca seemed genuinely glad to be in Foggy Bottom. They played a solid set of WTM originals, in addition to a noteworthy cover of Fleet Foxes’ “White Winter Hymnal.” Energy was through the roof, both onstage and in the crowd. Whether in summer festival-inspired flower crowns and tie-dye or in Greek Week tees, Colonials unleashed the groove. The sun still shined, the audience size was manageable, and pregame buzzes were still going strong. One could safely dance (or, more realistically, slightly shimmy in place) without endangering herself or others.
But in the 45 minutes between the band and the rapper, even more Flingers emerged from the woodwork. The evening became a people-watching extravaganza: count how many backwards hats you can in ten seconds! Whose bleached jhorts were the most bootylicious? How much longer can this one couple bicker? What looks might we see at Coachella 2013? And a good time was had by all in the WALK THE MOON-Macklemore Interregnum.
At long last, the lights dimmed. The giant screen on stage awakened with color, declaring the artists and their album, The Heist, as if you didn’t already know. The handsome and enigmatic Seattle native burst onto the scene in a George Washington-esque jacket, incurring a tsunami-sized wave of cheers from the audience. And he responded with equal enthusiasm, as pumped to perform for U Yard as if it were a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
In about an hour, Macklemore tore through hits like “Thrift Shop,” “Same Love,” and “Can’t Hold Us,” appropriately concluding with “And We Danced.” Throughout, this natural performer endorsed House of Cards, his general love for all things Kevin Spacey (most readers wouldn’t disagree with him), and of course, thrifting. When Macklemore asked why students weren’t hanging from trees, some brash souls immediately put his suggestion into action, much to the chagrin of the University Police. Ryan Lewis, the rapper’s accessory and part time DJ, delivered the beats we’ve grown to love as the endlessly entertaining Owuor Arunga trumpeted his way to glory. Even the kid who had yet to speak in your Media History discussion couldn’t help but raise his arms in victory. For the Colonials, Spring Fling is one of a mere handful of campus-wide events and they planned to make the most of it. And we danced and had a really, really, really good time.
See all of the photos from Spring Fling on our Facebook page! http://www.facebook.com/gwradio
-Photography: © 2013 WRGW District Radio and Helen Jiang, all rights reserved.
In a way only a Lil B concert could be discovered, I found myself racing through the streets of Northern Virginia, quickly and impatiently making my way to the Empire Nightclub. Thank Based God for Twitter, for if I hadn’t had that I would have never been able to make the elusive and #rare show. After seeing his shout out to Springfield, V.A. and a quick Google search, I called a buddy and went off.
I called the club to make sure there were tickets and to discover when the show would begin. Soon after, we arrived to find a mysterious door next to an Afghan restaurant. People had already been thrown out and a fight was about to break out. But when we cowered inside and heard the sound of The Based God’s voice it was as if all of our problems disappeared.
We ran inside to see Brandon McCarthy standing above 6-foot speakers yelling “SWAG” to an adrenaline-pumping beat. He was wearing a small wife beater, pants that were also too small for him, and he was already very sweaty. But it was him. That internet sensation that we had only dreamed of seeing. He would randomly do shows in Syracuse, N.Y. and Boston but would he ever come to the D.C. area? It was finally hitting us.
While there were a lot of people at the venue, it was definitely not “almost sold out,” as we had been told. There weren’t many people at the bar, but the main floor was packed with teenagers pretending to cook, yelling “swag” and rapping along to their favorite songs. But not everyone was rapping along to the same songs. Lil B’s vast catalog is difficult to keep tabs on, and his wide variety of song types causes a lot of semi-popular songs. Some people would join in on “Like a Martian,” others would rap along to his verse from “Vans,” while there were even a few who knew “I Love You.”
But what was definitely the best part of the show was Lil B’s interactions with the audience. After about 15 minutes, he called all girls on stage, in classic rapper fashion. I have been to many shows with more well-known rappers who have pulled the same stunt but had never seen girls react this way. They bum-rushed the stage, hoping to get a piece of the Based God. Like a Greek god raised upon a based podium, Lil B continued to cook (the dance), rap, and say positive things to his audience while a sea of adoring fans and women offering themselves to him watched in awe.
However, in an odd way, this seemed to grow old. Lil B started to forget the words to his own songs and everyone was already out of energy. The sweaty mass of people went from a hyped crowd to a seemingly patient crowd. As he started into his more…motivational songs, patience started to wear and everyone began to simmer down. The only thing that really kept us engaged was his sporadic promises of taking pictures with everyone after the show. Getting evidence of being with The Based God was worth wading through his catalog of songs.
Finally, he actually did it. He called everyone on stage. Soon enough, a swarm of people hopped the barrier between the stage and the pit and pushed together to get a picture, a signature, even to just touch Lil B. Security quickly removed the majority of the fans on the grounds that the stage was going to collapse. But, he stayed and walked around the edge of the stage signing shoes, phones and arms and taking pictures with as many fans as he could.
Overall, the show was an amazing experience, but a test at the same time. It was like being in a two hour Lil B music video, but not being able to speed through it. But, I think my interaction with Lil B at the end of the show sums up the show’s experience for me:
“Lil B, can I take a picture with you?”
“Of course you can!”
“Thanks Lil B.”
“No problem man, thanks for coming, I love you.”
“…I love you too Lil B.”
Breaking news: The World’s Greatest Understatement was recorded last week when John Skehan of Railroad Earth told WRGW that the band likes to improvise at live shows. Their concert at Washington DC’s 9:30 Club, occurring only a few days after the statement in question, delivered over two hours of spirited, cohesive, and impressive musicianship. RRE certainly did play recorded favorites, but those tracks were more like guidelines— skeletons on which the band layered meaty muscles of creative, twangy, and fresh material.
New Jersey alt-country rockers Railroad Earth garner a broad spectrum of fans. The (sold-out) 9:30 Club was packed not only with the hip youth of DC, beards flowing gallantly and vintage cowboy boots stomping, but also with middle-aged “real people”: balding dads in Grateful Dead t-shirts and career women gleefully twisting and shouting, shedding the stress of the week’s Department of Transportation woes, keeping up with their younger counterparts. RRE’s preference for improvisation gives them a jam band-esque quality (hence the overwhelming presence of Dead paraphernalia) during their live performances that is not necessarily apparent in their recordings.
What was always apparent, whether listening to their records or watching them rock DC’s largest indoor venue, is that these guys are stellar musicians. They expertly passed solos back and forth, mainly between fiddle virtuoso Tim Carbone and banjo player/lead guitarist Andy Goessling. Singer Todd Sheaffer (who is also the band’s main songwriter) delivered clear, atmospheric lyrics, often referencing travel and the idea of “home.” He smiled constantly, while his bandmates traded solo performances, grinning as if thinking, “Man, whatta great band we are.”
The audience seemed to agree. Railroad Earth opened with a couple rip-roarin’, foot-stompin’ fast songs, giving the crowd no chance to think before forcing them to dance. Whether bobbing along, beer in hand, jumping, shimmying, or spinning their gals, no one on the floor stood still. Gazing up, it was obvious to the groundlings that even the more cautious folks on the second floor were living it up. Not all songs provoked wild dancing, though. Perhaps the majority of performance time was dedicated to slow, careful, soulful songs that sounded more folk than bluegrass. The audience was still receptive to these segments, although the mutual energy between the floor and the stage dropped noticeably. Perhaps it was a good thing, then, that RRE took a half-hour break around 10:30, returning reenergized and ready to rock once more.
RRE creates an important bridge between “country” and “alternative rock” at these live shows. The former genre sometimes renders cringes, especially from the blog-worshipping, Pitchfork-quoting kids of major east coast cities. But the power of this band to force even the frattiest intern to shake his hips demonstrates that Railroad Earth’s got big plans ahead, hopefully paving the way for more country bands in mainstream rock, as Wilco and the Avett Brothers have done. At least we, the Washingtonians, will welcome them with open arms.
WRGW: Once again, this is John Skehan of Railroad Earth on air with us. Did I pronounce your name correctly?
JS: Yes, Skehan, that’s correct.
Alright, excellent. So let’s see, you told me earlier that you all are now at home, where is that exactly? Stillwater, New Jersey for me, the band’s based out of northwestern New Jersey. We’re kind of all spread around the state. We just got back from about a two week tour on Sunday.
And you still have some more dates coming up, correct?
That’s right, we’re headed to Boston and then Washington, D.C. this weekend.
Yes, I know, I will be seeing you there! I’m very excited. How, if at all, does New Jersey factor into your music, to the composition, to your style, to your inspiration?
Well in a lot of ways. One of the earliest examples was one of the first songs that Todd, our lead singer and main songwriter, began working up for the band when we were just sort of getting together and experimenting with this music. The song was called “Black Bear” because where we are up in the northern corner of New Jersey, black bears are kind of a fixture around here – beautiful creatures and we have them roaming through our back yards from time to time. It’s always an exciting sight to see. But in fact, I remember working on that song outdoors on kind of a nice, extra warm fall day before we had really begun to record or do anything real serious with the band. We were just kind of working through the beginnings of the song “Black Bear” and, sure enough, one of them happened to kind of wander out of the woods for a moment. He took a pause, gave us a look, and went about his business. That’s certainly one of the things [from] this part of New Jersey that [we] get to bring on the road with us.
And am I correct in thinking that the name of the first EP, or at least the one that I have, is Black Bear Sessions?
Yeah, because it really was just kind of an informal get-together to try out some new music in a new format with a new band, different instrumentation. And “Black Bear” was one of the first songs we went in and recorded, and put out a five-song demo. Then, when that began to get some wheels and we found ourselves hitting the road and appearing at a number of festivals early on, we decided to go back and finish the record with a few more songs and just called it The Black Bear Sessions because it really was an informal go-into-the-studio-and-see-what-happens, sit-back-and-listen-to-what-we-did.
So that was 2000 to 2001 to 2002 era. What is it like to be in Railroad earth now, in 2013, as opposed to back when you were first getting started?
Well, you know, the time has really run by us quickly, and we’ve certainly been very, very blessed over these years to run into a lot of great people, had a tremendous amount of support, and now just sit back and see how not only the music has grown and the band has grown but also the fanbase has grown so much that it’s hard to imagine. We certainly never saw it coming back then in 2001 or 2002. We were just sort of rolling with something that we didn’t quite know where it was gonna go or what was gonna happen, so to look back on it now, I guess get a little perspective on that, is pretty humbling and amazing to think we’ve come this far.
And that makes me think of, well you mention how your fanbase is growing and how people react to your music, I’m wondering because your sound is so very American folk, beautiful and twangy, have you ever done any tours abroad in other countries?
Well, we haven’t really done any long tours, we’ve been lucky enough to go to a festival in Japan, Fuji Rock, I think that was back in ‘07 and we did go to a festival in Glasgow Scotland called Celtic connections— I think also in 2007. But we were able to just pick up a couple of dates in England and then do the festival in Scotland. That’s really been our only overseas trips we were just down in Tulum, Mexico playing the Strings and Soul Festival this past December, but that’s a little bit different than a tour and you know cruising through other countries. We’re hoping to do so at some point, but there’s an awful lot of ground to cover here in the United States as well, so we’re still trying to hit every place we possibly can at home.
Have you noticed any difference in audiences’ receptions based on the location of the venue? Like, New Mexico versus Massachusetts, is there a difference?
Well, I think that the response is usually pretty consistent, the difference is in the number of people, you know the West, Colorado in particular and California, have always been the strongest for us really, from the beginning, which is why I think most people think the band is actually from Colorado. But I guess people seem to react to the music, most of the time, positively just about the same everywhere we go. It’s just a difference in sheer numbers and audience, but we’re starting to see it grow more and more throughout the Southeast and all across the country.
As a performer, do individual concerts require different things from you than playing huge festivals, or even medium sized or smaller festivals, is it just a different vibe?
Well, you know we try to keep things a little vibrant by changing up the music as much as we can while we’re on the road. Certainly, during venue tours, we get the chance to play a lot longer than on a festival. Although, sometimes our festival sets will be a straight two hours. But when you’re doing shows in venues, especially doing multiple night stands in some cities— we just finished up a two night run of Atlanta, and we started that with, I think, two nights in Charlottesville— you get to settle in a little more. And since we’re doing two fairly long sets each night, you kind of shape the music in terms of song selection and try to create a story or just an evolving mood throughout the night, or even an arc over two different nights. Sometimes when you’re hitting a festival and you have 90 minutes or even two hours, you’re trying to reach a very large number of people so you’re going to kind of come out with all guns blazing and do things a little differently than you might when you have a full night of two sets of music.
Word on the Internet is that you all are really known for passionate, energized live shows. How do you keep up that level of intensity and energy night after night?
Well, we try to keep changing things. I think one of the interesting ways in which the band has evolved especially, as you mentioned earlier, thinking back to 2001 or 2002, we certainly got more confident in taking chances, in improvising, and changing up transitions in between songs or even wholesale parts of songs. And we try to do that just about every night, and try to come up with something to hopefully surprise or keep the interest level of people in the audience who know the music that might hear us doing something that we’ve never done before. But it also, I think, keeps us having a bit of an edge, when you have to go out there and think “Okay, this is completely different and new, and even though we may have played this song a hundred times before, we’re going to turn it inside out tonight, and go out on a limb and hope we all land on our feet.” I’d still say, though, that the biggest factor in energy behind a show is the audience, since a lot of what we do is improvisational, I think the audience feels that and when the energy is coming back from them, the band reciprocates, and you have kind of a mutual excitement in terms of something that is happening right there, right then that is felt by both the audience and the band.
Do you ever try to play cover songs at your shows? Is that something that you enjoy doing?
You know, we do now and again. We tend to be kind of selective with them, I think, more if it’s something we like or seems to fit the band, in particular Todd, being the lead singer, then we’ll go there. But if it simply doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fit, we’re just not gonna do it. We’ve had a couple of cover songs from early on, I guess one that comes to mind is a Tom Waits song called “Cold Water” which on the Tom Waits record is a slow, slow dirge and I think it was Timmy that brought it in and said “This would be a great bluegrass number.” So we cranked up the tempo, tripled it probably, and it’s still one of the more fun, just kind of rousing tunes in the repertoire. Usually, if we are approaching a cover, it’s because we want to do something completely different with or it’s something we all just genuinely like.
Well that’s a very organic way to do it. Why else would you ever play a song that isn’t your own if you don’t all love it?
Yeah, it has to mean something to us, I guess, rather than just throwing in covers for the sake of changing things up. We do get some unusual requests now and again and sometimes they have actually yielded songs that have found their way into the repertoire.
So, the improvisation that you mentioned that you all are so good at and that you love doing so much… Does that factor into the songwriting process as well?
It does, quite often. Again, Todd being the main songwriter, he’ll bring something in that’s really fully finished and the band will work with him just in terms of arrangements, instrumentation, kind of orchestrating things. But oftentimes we’ll get together in a studio or in a rehearsal space and a song will grow out of an improvisation. There are a number…I guess one that comes to mind would be “Morning Flies” from The Good Life record that really just started as kind of a groove that our bass player and our drummer, Carey, were warming up on in the morning. Next thing you knew, Todd started to get melodic ideas and began to kind of sing along and over a day or two a song had evolved. I think the song “Hard Livin’” from Amen Corner album really started out the same way, just kind of a riff that we were messing around with. Next thing you know, Todd had an idea that popped into his head and before too long it was a song.
I love that song, actually. I played it just before you called in. So that’s very fitting. I just have a couple more questions, kind of directed at you, personally. You know you play the mandolin, correct? And a number of other instruments, but primarily you play mandolin for the band?
So, why Mandolin? It’s just kind of a personal question, but that’s not an instrument that many musicians know their way around.
There’s something about it that just sort of drew me in. When I first began to listen to mandolin players, David Grismund and Sam Bush in particular, and, you know, in terms of bluegrass considering that Bill Munroe is the father of bluegrass and he was THE mandolin player. Really, he brought the mandolin to the forefront of a band, and the music he developed, bluegrass music and his mandolin playing style, he was really the first one to step up and say, “This can be a lead instrument.” A lead melody instrument, just like the violin. And it can also be a very powerful, driving rhythmic instrument. So when you start to get bitten by the bluegrass bug and get hooked on it, certainly the mandolin kind of holds a special place in the hierarchy of instruments. But for me, it’s just an amazingly versatile instrument, at once melodic and rhythmic and having had, initially, a background in guitar, moving from one fretted instrument to the next was somewhat natural. But also having had a lot of background with piano, I think the way I approached the mandolin was very much like the piano player’s right hand. At least, that’s how I view my role in the band, as someone who is like what the piano player would do with his right hand both playing melodies but also supporting things harmonically, playing chords but moving chord voicings around in a way both melodic and harmonic at once to support what’s happening.
It all sounds so very mathematical to me.
That’s the nerd side of it. The other thing is that the mandolin is beautiful and cool, the shape of it, it has a waist, it has hips, it’s sexy. It’s a beautiful thing.
And am I also correct, in doing some research, that you play a bouzouki on many songs?
Yes, I do.
Could you explain to our listeners exactly what that is?
Well, it’s an Irish bouzouki which sort of sounds like the punchline to a joke, because the bouzouki is originally a Greek instrument in origin. However, in the ‘60s, the Irish guys— I guess, somebody— brought one back from Greece and they were kind of drawn to the sort of jangly open quality of it. It works as a great harmonic support instrument for fiddle tunes, and they tuned it differently than the Greeks, basically tuning it an octave lower than a mandolin, which is tuned the same as a violin, so it kind of works great for playing fiddle tunes. And it fills in that role kind of between the mandolin and the guitar, being an octave lower. And having an interest in Celtic music, I was just sort of drawn to it and thought that it would be another interesting color on the palette for the band.
How do you explain matching these—you said Celtic, that’s the perfect word—Celtic influences with a style of music that is so very, quintessentially American? How do those two things work together?
Well, the Celtic influence really runs deep in the origins of bluegrass and, in particular, that whole area of American music that sprang forth from the Appalachian mountains largely because most of the immigrants were of Scotch Irish background. And they brought fiddle tunes, the traditional songs, with them. They found themselves kind of isolated down in the mountains and began blending that music with some things that were just evolving in America, gospel music, the music of black churches. And it’s really a large component in the melting pot that yielded bluegrass, and then further on, rock and roll. That’s what Bill Munroe used to call the ancient tones, the haunting modal qualities of the old Scotts-Irish fiddle tunes.
Yeah, it even sounds like it comes from the mountains. Like it’s misty and cloudy. It’s definitely atmospheric.
Yes, and like you said, it runs deep in particular in bluegrass and in American folk traditions.
So just to wrap this up I have a question about Railroad Earth as a unit. You haven’t released an album in a couple of years now. Is there one in the works, or would you like there to be one in the works?
There is one in the works, actually. We are hopefully getting very close to finishing it. We need to get into the process of mixing but we have been in the studio well for the better part of October and November and then as much as we’ve been able to, in between getting out on the road, you know. After New Years and everything we’ve been on a couple of long tours, but we’ve got the bulk of the record done, just really need to put the finishing touches on it. And it’s been an exciting process, it has been a couple of years and I think it’s yielded a lot of new music and probably the best record we’ve done since the beginning. If not the best.
Wow, I am so glad to hear that. I am so happy now. Are you playing any of these new songs on the tour right now?
Not just yet. We live in a world where things, once you put them out there… especially since we do allow taping and everything… that, you know, as soon as you bring something new out, it pretty much ends up all over the place and before you know it it’s not new anymore. So we are holding off until the record is closer to being finished and being released which will hopefully be in the springtime or at least early summer as we head for festival season. But we usually hold off on breaking out the new material until we’re closer to the record coming out, just because we certainly don’t want it to become to old too fast.
I can certainly understand that and I respect it and I very much look forward to hearing your new music.
Well thank you, we’re very excited about it. It’s going to be an interesting ride once it all comes together.
Good good good, and it’s a ride that’s going nowhere but up right now, and I’m just so happy for you guys, and I’ve loved seeing your rise, and I know it will continue. So once again, thank you, John, for calling WRGW and having a chat with us, and best of luck on the rest of your tour. I will be seeing you in Washington, DC this weekend but as for the rest of it, safe travels and I wish you the best.
Well, thank you very much! I’m looking forward to getting back to the 9:30 Club. We always have a great night there.
Always, always. But they’re very intense with their underage hand stamping, I can tell you right now. That’s a Me Problem. But thanks once again, we hope to hear some new music from you very soon!
Alright. Thank you so much. See you this weekend!
TLDR: You can also listen to the interview by clicking below!
British indie-rock outfit Foals released their third studio album last Monday, almost three years after NME named their second album Total Life Forever the sixth best album of 2010. The LP, titled Holy Fire, features 11 tracks of a decidedly tamer version of the band known for its eclectic sound.
Foals has the gift of making a slow, easy-listening song into something really exciting and showcases it early in the album with ‘Prelude’, following it up with the upbeat lead single ‘Inhaler’. ‘Inhaler’ stays true to the Foals sound, intricate instrumentals tied with lead singer Yannis Philippakis’ unique vocals and it all comes together to make this the perfect lead single (and well…song, if we’re being honest).
The rest of the album is equally as flawless, obscuring the line between indie rock and pop with sometimes haunting vocals coupled with upbeat instrumentals. Some stand out tracks include ‘Late Night’ and ‘Milk and Black Spiders’, although as with most albums, the experience is really in listening to the album as a whole.
Overall, ‘Holy Fire’ is another solid release from Foals, however, listeners who liked the busy, dissonant tracks from ‘Antidotes’ and ‘Total Life Forever’ feel the album may leave a bit to be desired. Foals will be playing the 9:30 Club on May 15th.
February has been a rip-roarin’ month for WRGW, and we’re only two weeks in.
This Tuesday, the 19th, we’re interviewing Big Gigantic and John Skehan of Railroad Earth! Twofertuesday, amirite?
Tune in at 2:30 to hear us chat with RRE’s amiable mandolin player, and stick around from 3-4 to listen for Big Gigantic!
Make sure to Like us on Facebook to keep up with all of our exciting events, interviews, giveaways, and more.
Pop music inherently relies on a collective audience to operate. There would be no pop music if artists didn’t have their eager companions; it’s the whole “tree-falls-in-a-forest” situation. So, if Pepi Ginsberg wanted to inform her audience as to how they should receive her new project, what better way than to welcome them into the process? Companion, at its heart, is unified— musicians plus frontwoman, one cohesive pop band.
Ginsberg has released several albums under her own name as a solo performer. Each album found specific ways to explore her vocal abilities, using instruments as backdrop, while her uniquely cool voice took the stage. This is why the name of her newest group and the ensuing record is crucial to interpreting its message. Ginsberg added Anna Thorngate and Amy Carrigan, members of the Brooklyn Women’s Choir, for heightened vocal effect. Due to the precise tone of her voice, these lovely additions fill out her sound. Adding bassist Tim Lappin, guitarist Kirk Schoenherr and drummer Justin Veloso further augmented the vocal center, expanding the melodious, airy pop sound to rock-like levels. Check out the funky and staccato guitar that opens “Homegirl”. It grows from fun and upbeat to some heavy minor chords, leading the vocals rather than following them. Clearly, Ginsberg has embraced her new pals.
“My Country, Your USA” demonstrates the power of cooperation operating within this Brooklyn unit. Schoenherr’s electric guitar introduces the hook, plucking out a catchy tune. Ginsberg follows subtly. Percussion enters next, adding weight to the light melody. Then comes a chorus of female voices, and suddenly Companion manifests itself. Whether intentional or not, the lyrics pay homage to another band of female vocalists, only the best-selling girl group Destiny’s Child, when Ginsberg sings, “Get me off the highway / Know it ain’t over till you say, say my name, say my name”. I prefer to believe that this is completely deliberate and fully expect a cover of “Survivor” on the next album.